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National EMS Week is May 15-21—A Time to Thank Those Dedicated Volunteers for Making a Difference!

National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week is May 15-21, 2022.  National EMS Week honors the lifesaving care EMS providers offer nationwide, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

The area ambulance services who commonly arrive with patients at Veterans Memorial Hospital (listed in alphabetic order) includes the Caledonia Ambulance, Harpers Ferry Rescue Squad, Lansing Ambulance Service, Monona Ambulance Service, New Albin Fire, Postville Ambulance Service, Waterville Rescue Squad, all in addition to the Waukon Veterans Memorial Hospital service.

The hospital’s ambulance runs have increased from 675 runs in 2020 to 762 runs in 2021 which is a 13% increase between calendar years. In 2021, The Veterans Memorial Hospital Ambulance Service operated with 18 active certified EMS providers to cover nearly 1500 12-hour paramedic and EMT schedule openings in order to provide seamless coverage to the area. Veterans Memorial Hospital’s paramedic service also covers other area services when they are short staffed, especially during the daytime hours, and provide advanced life support in services for the majority of the county.

EMT’s are greatly needed in EVERY community.  Veterans Memorial Hospital, in cooperation with Northeast Iowa Community College Business and Community Solutions, is currently holding an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) course in Waukon at this time, with hopes for another class to be offered in the near future.

With this certification, individuals are able to volunteer on their own community’s ambulance service or rescue squad, as well as be prepared for careers in emergency services. But the satisfaction of helping others and giving back to the community is the real reward for becoming an EMT, as evidenced below by these EMT volunteers:

Ben Ghelf of Lansing has been an active EMT on their service for nearly five years.  “I chose to take the class back in 2017 after the birth of our first son, Johnathon.  I had done very minimal babysitting when I was younger and realized that I really wasn’t sure what to do if he would choke or get injured,” explains Ben.  “After taking the course it sure has helped with raising both boys who can be rambunctious, to say the least.  I can really see how I have been able to help in the community by taking scheduled shifts and responding to the calls when needed.  Several of us on the Lansing service were presented with an award after a life-saving call.  I would recommend anyone to take the EMT class,” adds Ben. “Becoming an EMT isn’t about a paycheck, it’s about making a difference in people’s life, no matter how small. I know it will make a difference in your own life. It has in mine.”


Darcy Mathis is an active EMT on both the Waterville and Harpers Ferry rescue crews where she has been helping those communities for a number of years.  She states, “Being an EMT is a great way to serve and give back to the community.  Along with that your presence, skills and knowledge bring positive change. The skills you learn and practice are useful in any situation that may occur. The learning opportunities are endless!  There’s always a need for EMT’s.”



Sara Berges of Waukon has been an EMT at Veterans Memorial Hospital since 2011, helping out with ambulance call when she can around her busy work and family schedule.  “I chose to be an EMT because I’ve always been interested in medicine and this allowed me to have my full-time day job (which is not in the medical field) and still serve my community as an EMT on-call a few nights a week or on the weekend,” explains Sara.  “I have a busy life with a busy family, but I still find the time to participate with the VMH ambulance service.  While the skills and knowledge learned in the EMT class help prepare you to work as an EMT, they may prove useful in your own life too as you never know when emergency situations might arise.”


For more information about local EMT service opportunities and classes, contact Jacob Dougherty, Paramedic, EMS Supervisor, or Cheryl Livingston, Paramedic, EMS Instructor, at Veterans Memorial Hospital at (563) 568-3411.